|Carrot cake, old Sherlock Holmes movies and a fire.|
My sweet husband turned 34 this week. Happy, happy darling! Boof, long life, happy living.
As has become a birthday tradition at our house, we celebrate with carrot cake. Andrew loves carrot cake, and it's a good way to use up carrots from the garden. Just look at how happy he was when I made this cake for the first time for his birthday a few years ago.
This certainly isn’t the prettiest cake to look at and my terrible photography skills don’t help anything, but trust me it is delish! The carrots, pineapple and coconut make this cake nice and moist, and because it is full of carrots, you can tell yourself it’s healthy. It can be served with or without the frosting, but for occasions like birthdays, we always go with the frosting! More than one person has told me that this is the best carrot cake they’ve ever had.
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese-Lemon Frosting
1/3 cup dried finely shredded unsweetened coconut
About 1 pound fresh carrots, peeled and hand shredded
1 cup chopped pineapple
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 cups cane sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dark-brown sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts or pecans (optional)
Zest of 1 lemon (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper (to ensure that the cake will not stick), or place liners in 2 muffin pans for 24 cupcakes. Set aside.
Place the dried coconut in a cup of warm water to soften and set it aside for 15 minutes.
Place the carrots in a food processor and pulse on and off for 1 minute. Then add the pineapple and pulse until the carrots are cut into very small pieces and the pineapple is pureed, 1 to 2 minutes.
In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Add the brown sugar and use a whisk to break up any lumps.
Drain the coconut and place it in a medium bowl. Add the oil, vanilla extract, eggs, and carrot-pineapple mixture, and whisk to combine.
Add the wet ingredients into the dry, mixing with a rubber spatula to incorporate but not overmix. When the batter is almost mixed, stir in the nuts and lemon zest, if using. Pour the batter into the prepared pans.
Bake for 55 minutes, or until the tops are a very golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. (It may look as if the cake is too well done, but it takes a while to bake because it's so dense.) For cupcakes, the baking time is 35 to 40 minutes.
Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Then invert them onto a wire rack and let them cool completely.
Cream Cheese Lemon Zest Frosting
Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until combined and airy, about 2 minutes. Mix in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla.
With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sifted powdered sugar into the frosting.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. If the frosting seems too soft to spread, allow it to chill for 15 minutes in the refrigerator.